Phoenix was originally intended to be the last volume of this series. Had Brust decided to stick with this decision (and I for one am glad that he did not), he could have retired from writing about Vlad with confidence and pride, because this is without doubt, hands down, no contest the best bloody book in the whole bloody series. The 5-star rating above is a gross understatement. From Vlad's stunning prison-break to the week-long battle through the streets of Adrilankha when the revolution finally breaks out for real, Phoenix never lets up. And neither does Vlad; he manages to bring down the wrath of almost everyone who could do him damage and then some. Also, the pain-wracked soul-searching he began in Teckla comes to a head as he realizes that the reasoning behind his racism, his vindictiveness, and perhaps his very life is deeply flawed. An utterly engrossing, thrilling read, this is perhaps Brust's best work to date.